If you’ve been injured through someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and any other damages you incurred.
In most cases, however, there is some dispute about how much that compensation is – or even about who bears the most blame for the damages. These types of disputes are the reason why the civil justice system exists: To provide parties a fair venue to resolve their differences peacefully.
But what if you don’t want to go to court? The court can be costly and time-consuming, with months of preparation beforehand and long days of testimony, cross-examination, and argument. The thought of arguing your case, even with the help of an attorney, can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are ways to resolve disputes that don’t require a court hearing.
Negotiation seems simple, though it rarely is. In a nutshell, negotiation happens when your attorney meets with the other party’s attorney (with or without you), and they talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s positions. One side starts high, the other side starts low, and through a series of offers and counteroffers, interspersed with more discussion, they eventually hope to reach a settlement that both parties can be satisfied with.
In a personal injury negotiation, for example, you will first meet with your attorney to talk about the ideal settlement, as well as more realistic possibilities and worst-case scenarios if a jury were to decide against you on each contested point. You will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case as well as previous cases that were similar to yours and try to predict the most likely outcome at trial. Then you will usually authorize your attorney to settle for a range of options, from your ideal settlement figure down to a figure that will be less than ideal, but still better than going to court.
Then your attorney will discuss the case with the other party’s attorney. The other attorney will emphasize the weaknesses of your case, while your attorney will emphasize the strengths. If all goes well, they will eventually agree on a number that is well within the range of settlements you authorized. If they cannot, you can choose to go to trial or you can try a different dispute resolution method.
Mediation is essentially negotiation that is guided by a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator’s only job is to help both parties reach a resolution, if possible, by helping explore all the issues and possible solutions. Though your attorney will attend mediation with you, it is essential that all interested parties be present, so that decisions can be made right there at the mediation.
Arbitration is a lot like an informal court, with a neutral third party reviewing all the evidence and arguments and making the decision on what the settlement should be.
At Zimmet & Zimmet, we understand that the court can be daunting, and we explore all possibilities to resolve your civil case to your best advantage. If alternative dispute resolution methods aren’t successful, however, we have the experience to represent your case to the court and will do our best to persuade it to give you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.